12 April 2002

Concern over tight margins

STORE cattle prices continue to trade above fat prices causing concern among some feeders that margins could be tight when cattle are slaughtered.

A month ago, average store cattle prices were about 150p/kg for steers with all their beef special premium claims intact, 120p/kg for those with one claim remaining, and a £1/kg for those with no claims left. Heifers were also averaging about the same mark.

Recent reports show the strong trade has continued. At Knighton Market in Wales last Friday (Apr 5) steers with two BSPs levelled at 150p/kg, those with one claim left averaged 130p/kg, and bullocks with all claims taken traded at 103p/kg. Heifers slipped to an average of 97p/kg.

In the north-east, a similar bullish trade is reported. Ken Halley, auctioneer at Ruswarp, near Whitby, called it "unbelievable".

"Our opening sale saw prices up to 140p/kg for top quality heifers," he says. "Since then, we have been selling 60-200 cattle a week, with buyers looking for more cattle than we had available."

Steers with one BSP claim left have been trading in the region of 110-115p/kg, and bullocks with two claims left between 120p and 130p/kg. Best quality heifers have sold for 110-120p/kg, he adds.

Hull market auctioneer Ralph Ward also reports a buoyant trade for store cattle. Steers with one claim collected have been selling at 120p/kg and those with both BSP claims intact, 150p/kg. Heifers averaged 80-100p/kg.

Malton auction, which has been selling about 200 cattle a week, is another market which has seen a brisk trade for store cattle lately. Heifers have been selling at about 80-100p/kg, while steers with two BSP claims left have traded for 100-130p/kg. Bullocks with one claim left have been knocked down at 95-120p/kg, and those with both claims taken at 90-100p/kg. &#42

Masham mart, North Yorks, reopens for its first store cattle sale under operators Craven Cattle Marts this week. Yardsmen check the paperwork.